Janome Blue Dot Bobbin Case

 Any sewing machine user can tell you that changing the tension that is on the bobbin thread is a lot harder than changing the tension on the top thread. There's no numbers, it's hard to get to, it takes a tiny screw driver for the teeny tiny screw and there's really no way to do it without taking the bobbin case out of the machine.

(Yes, there are a few antique Singers that actually make the bobbin case screw accessible, but that's beside the point)

On a machine that has been properly adjusted and serviced by a sewing machine tech, typically we can balance out the tension by adjusting the top thread:

  • Tighten the top thread tension is just like loosening the bobbin tension.
  • Loosening the top tension is just like tightening the top tension.
But there are a few times when we just need a little less tension on the bobbin thread:

  • When using thicker thread in the bobbin.
  • When doing a technique in which the bobbin tension needs to be looser (as in the case of Free Motion Quilting or doing the Handlook quilting stitch.)
Top tension must be tighter than the bobbin tension? Couldn't we just tighten the top tension?!

Yes! I thoroughly agree. Tighten that top tension....except what if my machine is set on automatic tension and I'm not sure what to move it to?

Excellent question.

And that is why Janome has created the "Blue Dot Bobbin Case" for many of its machines. Pop out the normal bobbin case, often called the red dot bobbin case, and pop in the blue dot bobbin case and viola! You have looser bobbin tension!


Sorry, I don't have a picture handy for the 9mm machine version, you can see that the 'dot' is actually a triangle arrow.

It's already pre-set to have a looser than normal bobbin tension.

It's no secret that I'm not a huge fan of the blue dot bobbin case for most Janome machines, but I get asked about it quite often, so it's a good topic for me to pop up here on the blog.

However, I am always a fan of having a second bobbin case for your machine. Not really as a backup, though that can be handy should that need arise. But the blue dot bobbincase can be used for that second bobbin case. Might want to tighten it a bit if using for regular sewing, but it's great if you want to use it for heavier threads in the bottom of your machine (bobbin work, anyone? Love it!) As the name implies, it's got a visible blue dot of color on it so that you don't get confused about which bobbin case is which! (Yes, you could get a regular bobbin case, mark it accordingly, and adjust the tension yourself too!)

But there are a handful of Janome machines in which their "automatic" tension setting is on the manual tension wheel, and it can actually be easier to change out the bobbin case than it is to find your manual thread tension setting after coming off of the auto setting.

These machines are the Janome 8200, 8900, S6 and S5. There may be some older models with the same issue, but I'm not familiar with them off the top of my head. By changing out the bobbincase for the blue dot one, you can keep the top tension set on the auto setting.

Auto tension on the 8200

Beware! The blue dot bobbincases come in 3 versions: high shank 7mm machines, the big 9mm high shank machines, and the Janome M7 Continental. Yes, the M7 has a whole different bobbin case due to it's improved bobbin thread level sensor and different bobbin case, hence a different blue dot bobbin case. Check with your Janome dealer to make sure you get the right version

Finally, some people are just terrified to change their tension on their machine. Yes, it's true. It's my mission to take this fear out of using a sewing machine, but until I can get my message out there to the masses, it is a welcome thing for some folks to be told to change to the blue dot bobbin case for free motion quilting.

Do you struggle to understand tension on your higher end Janome machine? Want to learn to use your machine with more confidence and to explore your creativity? You might be a good fit for the AmyQuilts Clubhouse! This is my private, paid membership for owners of certain Janome machines, including all the current bigger models: S6, S7, S9, 6700P, 8200,8900, 9450/9400, 14000, 15000 and Janome M7. With video lessons on the basics, commonly used techniques, specialty feet, embroidery (separate section for the machines with embroidery and includes the 500 and 550e), it's like having a virtual local dealer! With the private facebook group, and over 250 members it's like going to a virtual Janome Club meeting...except we're not crowded.

Check it out and sign up for notification of when I open the doors to new members by going to the Clubhouse page.